Day 1-12


GBR FRA ESP 1st-12th December 2006, UK, France, Spain

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Start 1st December 2006, 04:30AM. Stone, UK.
51°39.32'N 02°27.63'W. Miles today 0, Total miles 0.

Day One. Aire de Pomminiac, N137, South of St. Malo, France.
47°47.91'N 01°41.45'W. Miles today 150, Total Miles 150 (distances not including ferry...)
Well, we were all up before the sparrow's fart at 4am and left a very cold and dark UK on our long road trip south. No problems at the ferry port of Weymouth, other than they were not happy with the extra diesel we were carrying so had to offload it into the tank. The crossing was….let's just say rough…but a lot more comfortable than some the crossings we've been on before in our yachting careers. Having been serenaded by a chorus of Channel island locals all throwing up around us, (Nice!) we arrived in France after 5 hours and found our way out of St Malo to camp in an Aires and cooked sausages in the pouring rain. Robs in a very bad mood as he realised he had to move 4 boxes just to get his toothbrush out! Fell asleep easily after lovely red wine Michael bought on the ferry.
Leaving a wet windy Weymouth

Day Two. Aire de St Palais Ouest, A10, South of Pons, France
45°30.80' N 00°36.83'W. Miles today 197, Total Miles 347.
Lordy….only woke up at 9.15am! Man, this tent is dark. Bought lovely fresh baguettes for brekkie and were soon on the road. Spent most of the driving apart from a quick stop by a river for lunch and to buy more red wine and cheese. Have resorted to the happy boxes of 5L wine. Stopped in another Aire for the night and made a yummy chilli con carne and drank wine and played cards 'til bedtime.
Lunch by a river

Day Three. Camping Xokoan, Dancharia, France/Spain border
43°17.43'N 01°30.19'W Miles today 181, Total miles 528.
Spent most of the day driving, heading for the Pyranees. Had our first breakdown, well actually it was our support vehicle. Just a small water blockage problem but the Fearsome Ford Twosome (father and son) soon sorted it out. Camped in a small campsite just before the Spanish border surrounded by sheep and rivers. Had weird veg curry with corned beef for dinner. Suprisingly nice. Early to bed after yet more wine and cards.
Support vehicles...

Day Four. Camping Olite, Nr Olite, N115 @23km, Spain
42°28.86'N 01°40.51'W Miles today 74, Total miles 602.

Drove through some stunning scenery of little almost alpine looking villages in the Pyranees, causing a stir as we drove through their narrow streets. Had a quick stop in Pamplona (no bull dodging involved luckily) to get some more info on what Spain has to offer. Not such a good idea as it was a nightmare to navigate through and we were too big to fit in to any carparks. Anyway….eventually with mission accomplished, we camped in a village called Olite in a sort of holiday trailer trash park. Michael treated us to his best Bolognaise yet and we ended the evening with yet more wine and cards. Anyone sense a pattern here?

Day Five. Camping del Pozo, Hormigos, Off N403 NW of Toledo, Spain
40°06.28'N 04°29.00'W Miles today 302, Total miles 904.
Had a long day driving and broke our first rule of never driving at night, especially in the pouring rain. Without saying too much, let's just say we got a little lost going around Madrid. I don't think I've ever heard Rob swear that much in such a short space of time, especially when we got separated from his dad. (Who by the way, got propositioned by some friendly local ladies while waiting for us.) In hindsight, we should have given Madrid a much wider berth. Oh well, all part of the adventure I guess. At least spending 3 years in Mallorca helped a little in that we could ask for directions and kinda figure out what they were on about. Eventually found a sweet little place called Hornigos to camp and had the last of the sausages all huddled in the very warm and dry support vehicle. Had a very cold and damp nights sleep after putting up our tent in the pouring rain. Am starting see the appeal of campervans. Michael remained dry while Robert and I were mostly….. damp!

Day Six. Embalse (lake) de Cijara. Bush camp off BA77 E of Helechosa, Spain
39°18.60'N 04°51.46'W Miles today 117, Total miles 1021.
Woke up to blazing sunshine to find we were right next to a river, which had overflowed. Would we have noticed if it reached us? Let's not go there. Drove through hundreds of olive groves and headed out to some lakes in the middle of nowhere to spend the night. Beautiful peaceful spot on the waters edge. A little chilly though, had to dig the thermals out.
Lake camping

Day Seven. Camping Puente Nuevo, Nr Villaviciosa de Cordoba, A433 @ 8.3km off N432
38°04.84'N 04°55.69'W Miles today 141, Total miles 1162.
Woke early as some locals came down to the lake to launch their boat. Sad to leave such a peaceful spot but have to get going. We have to meet up with Rob's aunt, uncle and cousin tomorrow in Malaga. They are renting an apartment there. Word is, they have a bath. Wonder if they have any sausages? Chose the scenic route though more lakes, stunning scenery and thousands of olive groves. Seems to be some sort of holiday coming up, as we stopped to pick up some more provisions in the busiest supermarket yet with hundreds of locals panic buying. Funny, how we seemed to have more wine and beer in our basket than food. Well…you can take the yachties away from the alcohol….but you can't take…..nope, I'll keep schtum! Anyway, decided we needed a hot shower before we joined the family tomorrow so headed for camping Puento Nuevo in the mountains near Cordoba. Very busy with the holiday coming up. Made a scrumptious beef and butternut stew with mash….well, ok…smash.

Day Eight. Sahara Sunset, Benalmedina, Costa del Sol, Spain
36°35.48'N 04°31.81'W Miles today 130, Total miles 1292.
Headed for the ever famous Costa Del Sol baby to meet up with Ray, Jennifer and Gaileen. Man, it's warm down this end. They gave us a fabulous welcome with a quick lunch on their balcony (sausages, I might add…yay!!!) before we went on a long walk along the promenade. They treated us all to a great dinner (steaks all round!) and plenty of wine and Spanish herb liquers , which should sort my cough out that I seemed to have developed. Met a sweet Moroccan chap working in the restaurant who gave us heaps of tips and advice for Morocco. Fab stuff! Late night to bed after a long, hot bath…I know…how lucky am I? and Rob got to watch motorbikes on Eurosport. Slept very well…perhaps aided by the copious amounts of alcohol we consumed with dinner.
the family

Day Nine. Camping La Casita, San Roque, A7 126km, 8km N of Gibralter, Spain
36°15.09'N 05°20.09'W Miles today 63, Total miles 1355.
Woke early and just did some laundry and stuff and family bonding while being accosted by loads of Scottish sun worshippers all wondering what on earth this mission was all about. Said a sad farewell to the Dixon family (after more sausages) and made our way to a lovely but pricey campsite, La Casita, near Gibraltar. We can see Africa!

Day Ten. Camping La Casita, San Roque, A7 126km, 8km N of Gibralter, Spain
36°15.09'N 05°20.09'W Miles today 0, Total miles 1355.
Spent the morning trying to fix our alarm system, which we did successfully. Poor sensors had got a little wet. Nothing a ziplock and a cable tie can't sort out. Took a drive into Gibraltar. Weird place but alas, they had a MacDonald's. Had the most delicious burger ever, even with my cold and wondered around the scruffy streets for a while. Had a lovely surprise group phone call from a bunch of yachtie friends all enjoying a Sunday lunch in Mallorca. Thanks guys…was fab to talk to you all again. Popped into Morrisons for last luxury provisions, only to discover no sausages, not a single one, not even a frozen one. Am gutted! Decided to stay one more night at the pricey campsite so made a quick chilli before bed. Managed to tune into a very intriguing play on BBC World Service about Robert Mugabe and his psychiatrist. Very amusing. Safeway in Gibralter

Day Eleven. Camping Paloma, CM340 74km, W of Algeciras and Tarifa, Spain
36°04.59'N 05°41.70'W Miles today 41, Total miles 1396.
Woke to a very windy and dark morning. Headed off into Algeciras in search of the infamous spare part for the campervan. Mission was pretty unsuccessful. Oh well, we've lasted this long without it. Headed down to the port to investigate ferry tickets for tomorrow. Small nightmare, they seem to cost a lot more than we had planned. Eventually found a company that would recognise us as a Land Rover and not a Campervan, which brought the price down. Still, €141…one way for 35 minutes…robbed, I tell you! Trundled round the coast passed Tarifa, the surfing and windsurfing mecca and camped in a funky little place called Paloma. Cool, little spot right near this awesome beach and dunes. After long walks on the beach, we are very exited…Africa tomorrow. Last European sunset

Day Twelve. Cueta, Spain/Morroco, North Africa
Somebody's gotta take that rooster down. Tried to convince the campsite kitties to tackle him as a team but they seemed more interested in my Bovril toast. Packed up quickly and headed for the ferry. After much shuffling about, they put you on any old ferry so it makes no difference really which company you book with. Ferry was a little rough for the Spanish, as more choirs of vomiting surrounded us for the half-hour crossing. Landed in Ceuta, which is a Spanish enclave, so picked up some cheap fuel and found some dodgy Spanish sausages as a last resort. Headed for the border and the unknown….but more about that next time.
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